Coffs race legend Doug Coulter gets set for another tilt

DIY JOB: Coffs sailor Pierre Gal hopes to have his home creation ready for the Newport Coffs Race.
DIY JOB: Coffs sailor Pierre Gal hopes to have his home creation ready for the Newport Coffs Race.

Lake Macquarie sailor Doug Coulter is hoping history repeats in this year’s Pantaenius Newport Coffs Coast Race.

Coulter is busily preparing his Rogers 46 Shakti for the coastal race in December, and is looking for another gong to complement his storied connection with the great race.

Coulter sailed his first Coffs race in 1984 aboard his Farr two-tonner Fiona, a well-performed IOR racer that’s now living in retirement somewhere in the Whitsundays.

He also competed in his Farr 40 Short Circuit, and won the race aboard the Sayer 40 Frantic in 1998.

“I used to go to Hobart on a regular basis before getting a bit long in the tooth,” Coulter said.

“And I also didn’t own a boat that was suitable for mid-length coastal racing.

“The bug then bit me again, so I bought Shakti in the UK, and the rest of it is history.”

Reflecting on last year’s results, Coulter surmised that it all came down to those split-second decisions.

“In last year’s race, we finished second across the line behind the Cookson 50 About Time.

“We caught them around Seal Rocks because they took a dig out to sea that didn’t pay off.

“They finally got us around Nambucca Heads and beat us across the line by about 12 minutes.

“We’d been reasonably wide ourselves off Seal Rocks, and Anger Management crossed in front of us as we headed back into shore.

“We stayed close to the beach from then on.

“It was on the nose all the way, so lots of tacks and tactics.”

Whether it’s the competitive racing, or the comprehensive social program, Coulter can’t be sure what leaves him more sore.

“Bit tough on the body but you never know if it’s the race or the liver that you gave a hiding too.

“I’m 77 years of age and I suppose it’s not as easy as it used to be.”

Crossing the line, knowing there’s a beer at the end of it, is a feeling that keeps Coulter coming back.

“For a fast boat like ours, it takes around 25 to 30 hours,” Coulter said.

“So you work fairly hard.

“I still enjoy the challenge and I’ve got a great crew who enjoy it as well.”

Speaking on Shakti’s chances for the race, Coulter said:

“Upwind, it’s just another 46-footer.

“But downwind, when it gets planing, it really sails beyond its handicap.”

SPECIAL YACHT ALMOST READY

Meanwhile, Coffs Harbour local Pierre Gal is putting the finishing touches to a home-made 34-foot yacht, with the aim of having it ready for the race.

The French expat has spent more than a year crafting the potent Marc Lombard design in an industrial shed at Coffs Harbour, which also houses his Offshore Sails loft.

He believes it’s the only state-of-the-art IRC yacht currently under construction in Australia.

“I think this boat, at 34 feet, is a nice manageable size and fairly fast,” Gal said.

“It was originally designed for the Transquadra solo race but has performed really well under IRC in Europe.

“It has a wide transom with a long chine, twin rudders and a 1.6-metre bowsprit for strong downwind performance.

“We’ll be running a big asymmetric, a code zero and possibly double or triple headsails like on the Volvo boats.”

Speaking on the Pantaenius Newport Coffs Coast Race, Gal Is keen to test the IRC yacht on its maiden offshore outing.

“The Newport-Coffs will be our first offshore race and we’re really looking forward to it. It’s always good to finish at home, plus the race is the perfect length [at 230 nautical miles],” he said.

“Coffs Harbour is a beautiful part of the world, which is why I’ve lived here for the past 32 years.”

The 2018 Pantaenius Newport Coffs Coast race starts at Pittwater on December 27.

START-UP LOOKS TO SHARE LOVE

Local boat-share start-up Flotespace is partnering with Koolewong Marina on the NSW Central Coast as an exclusive provider of short-stay accommodation services to the facility.  

The arrangement is dependent on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority giving the go-ahead for private boat owners to rent boats for accommodation. 

“Koolewong Marina is fortunate to be working with Flotespace as they pioneer this exciting new short-stay accommodation alternative,” Les Binkin, Koolewong Marina owner, said. “We feel Flotespace will add value and profile to our relatively new Koolewong Marina brand.”

MARINA ALMOST OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Trinity Point in Lake Macquarie has announced the much-anticipated marina will be operational this summer, while a new combined café and restaurant will be opening soon.

Stage 1 of the marina will comprise the first 94 berths and an adjacent carpark. Marina berths are available in a range of sizes to accommodate boats from 12 to 30 metres.

After a day on the water, boating enthusiasts will be able to refuel their vessels at the marina and refuel themselves at the new Trinity Point Restaurant. 

Visitors can also enjoy a walk along the marina and foreshore, which will be open to the public.  

Jack O’Rourke is a contributor to Ocean Media.